Dissent on descent

April 9, 2004

Paul Gross ("Why I don't believe Zionism is racist", March 26) neatly evades one of the key issues in the "Zionism is racism" debate. This is not only, or even mainly, about occupation. Zionism's definition of the nature and the predominant citizenship of its state is ethnic and/or religious.

Many of us regard any such definition of citizenship as implicitly racist. I and many others opposed the British Nationality Act of 1981 because of the inclusion of "descent" as a criterion for nationality.

Why, then, should we not apply the same denunciation to Zionism, which goes further and makes the creation of a state based on ethnic specificity, if not ethnic exclusivity, into a general principle? This opposition does not in any way turn us into anti-Semites.

Richard Kirkwood
Senior lecturer in social science
London Metropolitan University

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